Monday, November 23, 2009

"10 indicted in Chicago sham marriage conspiracy"

"An immigration attorney and five current and former Cook County Traffic Court employees were among those charged on Monday for allegedly arranging sham marriages to evade U.S. immigration laws. The charges resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

A federal grand jury returned a 14-count indictment last week that was unsealed Nov. 23 after ICE agents arrested five of the defendants. Among the 10 individuals charged are a Chicago immigration attorney and five current or former Cook County Traffic Court employees. However, the charges do not allege that their employment played any role in the alleged fraud scheme.

According to the indictment, Maria F. Cruz and others recruited U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, primarily Filipinos, who entered into at least 15 sham marriages to evade immigration laws. The foreign nationals paid Cruz about $3,000 each to arrange for them to marry U.S. citizens. Cruz allegedly promised U.S. citizens that in return for marrying a foreign national they would receive about $3,000 after the marriage and about $350 a month until the foreign national obtained U.S. citizenship.

Foreign nationals who marry U.S. citizens can become U.S. permanent residents - and ultimately obtain U.S. citizenship - but not if the marriage is identified as a sham solely to evade immigration laws."
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